Diet and condition of American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)in three central Florida lakes

Rice, Amanda Nicole (2004) Diet and condition of American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)in three central Florida lakes. Masters Thesis, University of Florida, 100pp.

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Official URL: http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/UFE0004367

Abstract

Understanding the diet of crocodilians is important because diet affects condition, behavior, growth, and reproduction. By examining the diet of crocodilians, valuable knowledge is gained about predator-prey interactions and prey utilization among habitats. In this study, I examined the diet and condition of adult American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in three central Florida lakes, Griffin, Apopka, and Woodruff. Two hundred adult alligators were captured and lavaged from March through October 2001, from April through October 2002, and from April through August 2003. Alligators ate a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate prey, but vertebrates were more abundant and fish dominated alligator diets in the lakes. Species composition of fish varied among the lakes. The majority of the diet of alligators from Lakes Apopka and Woodruff was fish, 90% and 84% respectively. Lake Apopka alligators consumed a significantly (P = 0.006) higher proportion of fish in their diet. Fish were 54% of the diet of Lake Griffin alligators and the infrequent occurrence of reptiles, mammals, birds, and amphibians often resulted in a large biomass. Differences in alligator diets among lakes may be due to differences in sample size (higher numbers of samples from Lake Griffin), prey availability, habitat, prey vulnerability, or prey size. Alligator condition (Fulton’s Condition Factor, K) was significantly (P < 0.001) different among the lakes. Alligators from Lake Apopka had the highest condition, followed by those from Lake Griffin, and alligators from Lake Woodruff had the lowest condition. Composition of fish along with diversity and equitability of fish in alligator diets may have contributed to differences in condition among lakes. Condition was probably also due to factors other than diet such as alligator hunting behavior, alligator density, or year-round optimal temperature that prolongs feeding. The observed diet and condition differences probably reflect both habitat differences and prey availability in these three lakes.

Item Type: Thesis
Title: Diet and condition of American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)in three central Florida lakes
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Rice, Amanda Nicole
Number of Pages: 100
Date: 2004
Department: Natural Resources and Environment
Institution: University of Florida
Issuing Agency: Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Uncontrolled Keywords: American alligator; Alligator mississippiensis; Florida; nutrition
Subjects: Biology
Limnology
Item ID: 5059
Depositing User: Stephanie Haas
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2011 14:40
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 15:29
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/5059

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